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Bobby Morris takes over baseball training facility at Omni

Bobby Morris evaluates form Schererville resident Mt. Carmel (Chicago) baseball player Scott Kapers as teen exercises Morris Baseball Softball Center

Bobby Morris evaluates the form of Schererville resident and Mt. Carmel (Chicago) baseball player Scott Kapers as the teen exercises at the Morris Baseball and Softball Center at Franciscan Omni Health and Fitness in Schererville on Nov. 17. Owner Morris opened the school on Nov. 1.

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Updated: February 17, 2014 8:53AM



What’s in a name?

People seek to maintain a good reputation and honor the legacy of their family. In the professional world, accomplishments bolster the value of a name.

Bobby Morris, founder of Morris Baseball and Softball Center at Franciscan Omni Health and Fitness in Schererville, recently put his name on the marquee. The Munster native and former MLB player’s graphic stands where the gothic script Sox logo was posted until the White Sox discontinued operating their training academy at the multi-use complex.

Having been involved in baseball since he was a young boy, Morris said he wanted to continue that relationship by offering professional-level training and insight to aspiring baseball players in the region. The 8,000 sq. ft. academy opened its doors on Nov. 1.

“I thought this was a great opportunity,” Morris said of purchasing the former Sox school. “The space was great; Omni 41 is a fantastic organization with a fantastic location. ... For me, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

A former director of the Sox academy, Morris said the Omni facility offers some of the best opportunities for both casual and serious athletes to train and practice. And he’s sought to retain those pros and others who were part of the Sox’s Northwest Indiana extension as he prepared to purchase the school.

The Bobby Morris name alone, though, carries the weight he needs to attract players. After his all-state career at Munster, where he still holds the home run record, Morris was a shortstop at Iowa. Later he was a ninth-round pick by the Cubs. He was on the Cubs’ 40-man roster in 1996 and had a nine-year nimor-league career.

Morris laughs as the topic of a certain rumor is discussed: that, as a youth, he had a superior swing to that of his older brother, Hal Morris. Hal, a Munster High School standout baseball player, Michigan star and 13-year MLB player — mainly with the Cincinnati Reds — had the edge, he conceded.

“Some of the scouts around here say that,” Morris said. “I definitely had a good swing but frankly it’s pretty hard to argue with (Hal’s) .300 career batting average in the major leagues.”

Hal, currently head of player personnel for the Los Angeles Angels, is a member of the new Schererville-based baseball academy’s board of directors. Bobby said he keeps in close touch with his brother and values his advice.

Seeking advice and intensive training, Mount Carmel (Chicago) junior Scott Kapers of Schererville frequents the Morris school. The teen has known Morris for several years. Kapers was key to his school’s 4A state title game win over Libertyville on June 8. As a sophomore starting catcher, he tossed out a player at third to help ignite a late-inning rally.

“Bobby’s a great guy; he’s really taught me a lot,” said Kapers, who works out at Omni at 4 a.m. on many mornings. “He teaches you the little things. Like when I was younger he taught me all the things that I really needed to fix, and then I tweaked them all, to get to the next level.”

Kapers recently committed to play baseball at Valparaiso University. Beyond that he aspires to one day be named an MLB MVP.

Jeremy Wright of Munster shared Kapers’ sentiments about the quality of training at Morris. The former Andrean standout shortstop is a freshman on the Purdue Calumet baseball team.

Morris believes his academy employs “cutting edge” philosophies that are both ambitious and practical. And he said he is confident in his “very, very good” staff, including Bill Bryk, a scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Morris section of the Omni complex features top-of-the-line batting cages, pitching machines, rubber band gear and enough space for an infield. One-on-one training is offered to help get young players closer to throwing the 90-mph fastball.

Recently, Morris commissioned motivational for the venue, which is home to the namesake elite travel baseball organization.

“We’ve got a lot to offer,” Morris said. “We been there and we’ve seen it. We know the little things to help you along the way.”



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